10 awesome reasons to visit Athens
Can’t decide where to go on your next holiday? We’ve got the perfect destination for you: Athens.
This ancient Greek metropolis has a lot going for it. Yes, it’s renowned for its rich history and archaeological ruins, but there’s so much more to this amazing city. With pristine beaches, stunning landscapes, a vibrant nightlife and mouth-watering cuisine, there’s something for everyone, making it the ideal place for a getaway.
Here are 10 awesome reasons to visit Athens.
1. The Mediterranean climate
If you’re a sun-worshipper, you’re in luck, as Athens basks in sunshine most of the year. The summers are hot, and the winters mild. Even if you travel in January, you can expect average temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius, which isn’t too chilly.
2. Plenty for culture vultures
Athens is steeped in history and culture, from the ancient ruins dotted around the city, to its fascinating museums. You’ll never be stuck for things to see and do, whether you’re exploring the winding streets of Plaka or admiring the grand Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Many people headed to Athens should also make time for a day trip to Delphi, site of the oracle and heart of the classical Greek world.
But if you only visit one landmark during your stay, make it the Acropolis, an awe-inspiring ancient citadel which overlooks the city. It’s thousands of years old and home to some seriously incredible ruins, including the world-famous Parthenon temple and Theatre of Dionysus.
3. Mouth-watering cuisine
The food alone is reason enough to book a trip to Athens. With succulent souvlaki, fresh Greek salads, and moussaka on the menu, it’s a foodie’s paradise.
If you’re after traditional Greek cuisine, Klimataria is well worth a visit. This is one of the oldest taverns in the city, serving up authentic local dishes, with a side of Greek music and dancing.
Or if you’re looking for dinner with a view, Tudor Hall boasts an incredible outdoor dining area with stunning views over the Acropolis and Parthenon.
For food on the go, a gyro will do nicely. A Greek version of the doner kebab, they’re filling and delicious. O Kostas in the Syntagma district makes some of the best in Athens.
Tip: Not sure how much gratuity to leave when visiting restaurants in Athens? Take a look at our post on how to tip in Greece for some advice.
4. Bustling nightlife
One thing’s for sure, when the sun goes down in Athens, you won’t get bored, as the nightlife is legendary. But be prepared for a long night, as the bars don’t get going before 10pm. Once they do, the options are endless.
Why not stroll on over to the 360 Cocktail Bar above Monastiraki square for a tipple? As the name suggests, you’ll enjoy some fantastic 360-degree views of the city here.
Then for a taste of traditional culture, catch some Rembetika (Greek blues music) at Kavouras.
And if you’re still in the party mood, you can continue your night at one of Athens’ party spots, such as Island, in the trendy Riviera area.
5. Weird and wonderful markets
The saying, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ rings true when it comes to Athens’ flea markets. One of the most popular is the Monastiraki market in Ifestou. Every Sunday, people come from far and wide to sell their knick-knacks.
You can find everything from old paintings and tea sets to second-hand books and musical instruments here. It’s the perfect opportunity to put your bargaining skills to the test and stock up on souvenirs.
6. Cracking calendar of events
Athens is a city that rarely sleeps. Every month, there’s something happening somewhere, whether it’s a festival, show or exhibition.
One of the highlights is the Athens and Epidaurus arts festival (June to August), which comprises an open-air theatre, opera, classical music and dance performances, at various locations around Athens.
An equally impressive festival is the Apokries Carnival. Translating as ‘no more meat’, the carnival is celebrated in the three weeks leading up to Lent. Similar to other carnivals in Europe, the Apokries is basically a massive street party. People dress up, dance on the streets and feast. What’s not to like?
7. Beautiful beaches
You may not think of Athens as a beach destination, but there are plenty of sandy spots to top up your tan. Few visitors realise that less than 14 km south of the city centre lies a stunning stretch of sandy beaches with blue-flag certified clean waters. The best place to catch some rays is Skalakia Agias Marinas, a picturesque cove with golden sand and turquoise waters.
If you’re into water sports, a day trip to Vouliagmeni beach is a must. As well as being one of the Attica coastline’s most glorious beaches, it has everything you need to enjoy a day on the water, from windsurfing and paddle boarding to boat hire.
8. Sights off the beaten track
If you want to do something a bit different, a hike up Mount Lycabettus is just the ticket. Situated 277 metres above sea level, it’s the tallest point in Athens and offers incredible views over the city. Although it can be enjoyed at any time, it’s most magical at sunrise or sunset, when the city is illuminated with twinkling lights.
Talking of sunset, a 2-hour guided sunset tour by E-Bike is a great way to learn about this fascinating city from the locals. Listen to street musicians and enjoy the cooler air of the evening as you admire the historic monuments by twilight.
9. It’s wallet-friendly
Due to Greece’s recent financial difficulties, the prices of food, drinks and alcohol have remained relatively low, so you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the bill arrives. Local wines are very cheap and equally as delicious as their imported counterparts.
There’s plenty to see and do without breaking the bank, too. If you’re lucky enough to be in the city on the first Sunday of the month, between November and March, you could see many of the major Greek archaeological landmarks like the Acropolis and the National Archaeological Museum for free.
If you fancy making a city break in Athens a simple stop-off before doing some island-hopping, then you’ll have plenty of options close to you.
There are many picturesque islands less than a couple of hours’ boat ride from Athens. You could enjoy diving and snorkelling in the pristine waters of Agistri, lounge in the natural hot springs of Kythnos, or hike your way around the hills of Anthos – and that’s just to name a few.
Awesome accommodation in Athens
From hostels and guest houses, to luxury hotels and beachfront villas, there’s accommodation to suit every budget in Athens. But if you’re heading to the Greek capital between August and September, make sure you book early, as the city gets very busy.
Crowne Plaza Athens City Centre*****
For a five-star experience, take a look at the Crowne Plaza. The hotel sits on the edge of downtown Athens, within walking distance from upscale shopping areas, plenty of nightlife, trendy cafés, fine restaurants, cosy pubs, interesting museums and historic monuments.
Acropolis Luxury Apartments****
For family trip, check out the centric Acropolis Luxury Apartments. You’ll have room for up to ten people, and there’s a fully-equipped kitchenette, perfect for those days when you feel like dining at home with the little ones. Some apartments also have private spa tubs and amazing views of the Acropolis, too.
A for Athens***
A handmade Greek breakfast, a restaurant with creative culinary delights made from fresh Greek ingredients, and a cocktail bar offering spectacular vistas over the city… the hospitality of this charming hotel alone is enough to make it an excellent choice for your stay. A for Athens is located right in Monastiraki, so you’ll never be far from the main sights, either.
Don’t forget If you book your flights and accommodation through Norwegian, you’ll earn CashPoints. Plus, if you book your Athens airport transfers through Norwegian Reward, you’ll earn even more points!